There comes a time in the life of a digital nomad when you decide to travel – or you need to travel – to a place considered dangerous. The term is pretty relative; when we think of what makes a country dangerous, it’s not necessarily the real social state of the country and the real level of criminality, but how each person is perceiving that country, with help from the news and other sources.
The reality is all places have a dark side, so there is no place completely safe. Also, there are no completely dangerous places. Just ask a digital nomad who is living in Medellin!
However, there are some precautions you can take when you are planning to visit an area considered to be dangerous.
Get a real feedback on the place you are going to visit
Before you leave to a place considered to be dangerous, inform yourself on just how dangerous the place is. One of the best safety tips for traveling in a dangerous country is to get in touch with reliable people who live in the region or know the region really well and ask them how is life for them.
Look for articles and information written by the locals, as they have a more objective perspective upon their place of living.
It’s very important to check the political state of the region you are visiting; most of the times, places where the political environment is unstable are really dangerous and locals tend to make their own justice, using violence. This is also a good time to check if there are any trip warnings issued for the region.
Let people know where you are
Another simple think you can do to stay safe in your trips is to let people around you know where you will be in the next period. Talk to your friends and family and tell them where you plan to go and keep them updated with your location as frequent as possible. This way, if something bad happens, the authorities will know where to start looking for you. It might seem more of a negative approach, rather than an entry of safety tips for traveling, but this method really saves lives.
Wondering how detailed information you should be sending? A message as simple as “Today I will be visiting Somersby area and will take the bus back home. Hear with you at 6PM!”. This includes where you will be walking for the day and an approximate returning hour.
Keep an emergency card with you at all times
This is not only part of safety tips for traveling but also for traveling to any location. Take a piece of cardboard and write on it the important details about yourself. Note your name, blood type, allergies, known illnesses, any medication you are taking, a contact person’s name and phone number. Make sure you write the phone number with the country prefix. The card should be written in both English and the local language. This information is also written on your passport, but it never hurts to double it with this card.
Only travel with authorized transportation
Taxi drivers are always trying to scam travelers, but in some parts of the world, they are really dangerous. To avoid them and make sure you are traveling with a real taxi driver, not an impersonator who wants to rob you, try to call for taxi, instead of picking up one from the street. If you are not sure about a taxi, wait for the public transportation or have the contact details of a reliable, authorized taxi company.
Never drink too much when you are in a foreign country. Again, this is one of the safety tips for traveling anywhere, not only in a specific location. An intoxicated person becomes the target of criminals of all types, because the alcohol makes you prone to take bad decisions. Never drink more than one one glass of alcohol and make sure you don’t hang out with strange characters.
Never accept drinks from anyone, not even people you think you know: there are many cases when people were drugged and robbed.
Avoid flashy items
When you are traveling you don’t want to pop up in the crowd and make the job easier for thieves, so look at the locals and try to imitate their outfit and habits. Don’t wear expensive jewelry, don’t wear expensive bags and other things which may signal from far away that you are a traveler.
Don’t wear earplugs!
Earplugs make you less aware of your surroundings, so leave them home!
When you come home from your trip to a dangerous location make sure you talk about it and be sincere. Tell others how it was and if the place really is that dangerous. There are places which carry a bad name due to stereotypes, so work on changing this. On the other hand, if you had a bad experience in a place considered “safe”, do talk about it!
The world is beautiful and it’s waiting for you to discover it, so keep traveling!